Zombie Festival of Texas Creationism

We recently wrote Texas Creationism: Textbook Selection Time, in which we reported that the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) would be having a public hearing on September 17 to review the work of the “experts” it had appointed to make recommendations on textbooks. To no one’s surprise, among those review teams were a number of creationists.

Tomorrow is the big day for the public hearing. The creationists are already gathering, like zombies rising from the dead. Soon they’ll be mindlessly storming the SBOE meeting as they try to devour the brains of the living. The odor of rotting flesh is in the air.

The Dallas Morning News has a long article about it: Evolution at center of new Texas education board debate over science textbooks and e-books. A few excerpts (with our bold font) should be sufficient:

State Board of Education members will hold a public hearing Tuesday on proposed high school biology textbooks and e-books that will be used in schools for eight years beginning next fall. Not surprisingly, treatment of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in those materials has again sparked sharp disagreements between social conservatives and science educators.

We’re told that in Texas one can hear the eerie summons: “Arise, all ye undead! Climb out of your crypts and march on the SBOE hearing!” All right, we won’t do much more of that. Let’s get back to the Dallas Morning News:

But the political situation on the education panel has changed since 2009, when it decided the standards for science classes throughout the state. Social conservatives then were able to push for questions about evolution. Now, their near-majority on the board is gone. So they may have trouble exerting influence on textbook publishers.

That’s true. The one-time leader of the SBOE creationist faction — Don McLeroy, the creationist dentist — is no longer there. Let’s read on:

“This is a very different group of people than were here when the science standards were approved in 2009,” said board member Thomas Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant. Ratliff defeated the creationist board member who led the charge to question basic tenets of Darwin’s theory in science books and classes. [They’re referring to McLeroy.] “I have a high degree of confidence that a reasonable conclusion will be reached regarding the biology materials,” he said. He cited the “very high marks” that the initial drafts of the seven books received from leading science educator groups.

Let’s hope he’s right. We continue:

The [textbook review] committees included several evolution critics and creationists. Several have urged the education board to not adopt the books unless publishers include more disclaimers on evolution. One reviewer even suggested that coverage of “creation science” be mandated for every biology textbook. That would violate a 1987 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The decision banned teaching of creationism in science classes.

That’s probably a reference to Edwards v. Aguillard. Here’s one last excerpt:

Most criticism of the books has been more along the lines of State Board of Education Chairwoman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands. She testified to a legislative committee this year on how evolution was covered in lesson plans used in hundreds of school districts.

“Our intent is to teach all sides of scientific explanation,” she told lawmakers. “But I couldn’t find anything that might be seen as another side to the theory of evolution. Every link, every lesson was taught as: ‘This is how the origin of life happened. This is what the fossil record proved.’ That is all fine. But that is only one side.”

She couldn’t find “another side to the theory of evolution.” BWAHAHAHAHAHA! There isn’t another side, you twit!

We’re not even halfway through the news story, so if you’re interested, click over to the Dallas Morning News to read the rest of it. Also, that same newspaper has a great column on the subject by Jacquielynn Floyd. See Why can’t Texas evolve beyond anti-science foolishness? It’s definitely worth reading.

We’ll leave the topic for now, but before we close we feel an obligation to give you this Curmudgeonly warning: If you’re in Texas, watch out for the zombies. They want to eat your brains!

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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8 responses to “Zombie Festival of Texas Creationism

  1. I feel like if you’re suggesting a board breaks the law you don’t get to be on that board any more.

  2. In addition to The Jell-O Brains of Texas, here’s a fresh ditty to sing around the campfire:

    Deep in the Heart of Textbooks

    The zombies smite, and sometimes bite
    Deep at the heart of textbooks!
    They’re ripping out the things they doubt
    Deep in the heart of textbooks!

    A sage’s work drives them berserk
    Deep in the heart of textbooks!
    They denigrate the things they hate
    Deep in the heart of textbooks!

  3. “Every link, every lesson was taught as: ‘This is how the origin of life happened. … ‘ “: State BoE chairwoman Barbara Cargill

    Hold the phone a sec here, Ms. Cargill. Are you certain about that ‘origin of life’ claim? Can you list the book titles and pages where that claim is written in biology textbooks on the recommended list? Or even one page in one textbook?

  4. I yearn for the day when high school sociology text books start including sections on the cultural by product that is mysticism and it’s symptoms i.e. cretinism.
    Will the mystical minded still want to teach both sides of the psychological, sociological and anthropological aspects of mysticism or simply burn books and make laws that enshrine delusion?

  5. Hey Curmudgeon, did you see the letter one of the experts wrote?

    Poor guy :[

  6. Richard Olson, you beat me to it. I had her quote all copied and ready for comment before even clicking on the “Comments” button.

    Like you, I seriously doubt that “Every link, every lesson was taught as: ‘This is how the origin of life happened.”

    We need to do a better job educating the public that the Theory of Evolution says absolutely NOTHING about the origin of life. Creationists keep getting away with throwing that red herring out there.

  7. Jimmy D. Gollihar shows astonishing restraint. His letter is a telling indictment of the subterfuges and jaw-dropping dishonesty cretinists and IDeologues are prepared to rally in promoting their baloney. These are the self-appointed moral guardians of our youth.

    Sheesh.

    Thanks for the heads-up.

  8. things may be even worse than they seem, as TEA negotiates in secret with publishers. See Steve Schafersman’s press release ( TCS Press Release 2013 Sept 16.doc):

    The Texas system to adopt science instructional materials is sick, broken, and corrupt, and has been for over 40 years. Texas Citizens for Science (TCS) has been appearing before the State Board of Education (SBOE) since 1980 to advocate for the accuracy and integrity of science education in Texas . In line with SBOE and TEA practice over the last six years, several well-known anti-evolutionists and Intelligent Design Creationists were nominated and appointed to all three biology materials review panels, at least one Creationist to each panel. This was no accident. The system was rigged by a few anti-science activist State Board members with the shameful complicity of TEA staff. The TEA staff has not been this complicit since the 1980s, and this is a significant change from just two years ago when only reviewers with documented credentials were allowed to review instructional materials.

    The Creationists on the three biology review panels made many nonsensical criticisms of the submitted biology materials that have been widely noted, such as the claim that there “no transitional fossils have been discovered” and asking that “the ‘creation model’ based on the Biblical view of history” should be included along with evolution. Such radical comments will be ignored since they are illegal and outside the bounds of science. Other Creationist comments, however, request changes the anti-science State Board members really want—the ones that weaken and damage science instruction so that students will be misled and confused about the ability of evolutionary biology to explain the existence of biological diversity, thus leaving students prey to Creationist explanations. These criticisms ask that more information about the “complexity” of DNA, cells, and biological structures be included that will serve to weaken or misrepresent coverage of evolution. The fetish of “complexity” is the Intelligent Design Creationists’ sacred icon since they claim—inaccurately—that evolution cannot account for biological complexity so, therefore, an Intelligent Designer must be responsible. This is a classic illogical argument from ignorance.

    Steven Schafersman says, “These changes will be extorted—excuse me, “negotiated”—with publishers in secret meetings with TEA staff. I proactively requested an account of the changes publishers will be obliged to make using the Texas Public Information Act and was told, alarmingly, that these will not be made public due to a bogus reason: ‘third-party copyright issues.’ This is not an acceptable excuse. The changes publishers agree to make with the TEA must be made public just as they were in 2011 so we can evaluate what damage that will be done to scientific accuracy and integrity by censoring or manipulating the text of science materials. Let’s not revert to the corrupt decades of the 1970s and 80s when staff negotiated with publishers in secret and the results were not known until the books appeared a year later. I strongly believe that the new TEA excuse to keep extorted publisher changes secret is a deliberate policy chosen to deflect blame and accountability from the miscreants responsible.”

    During the CSCOPE hearing on September 13, several State Board members expressed their appreciation that the CSCOPE review process is now open and transparent. TCS urges SBOE members to apply the same standard of openness and transparency to your own science instructional materials adoption process. A motion and positive majority vote for a rule change is necessary that permits public knowledge of the textual changes to which publishers are forced to agree by the TEA and SBOE.